Saturday, December 30, 2006

What I've been reading


I ordered this book, second hand, before Christmas and it arrived on 23rd December, just before we set off for Carlisle and read it while I was there, in one sitting. I'm sure many of you in the US will be familiar with it, but if you are not, I implore you - go out to your library and borrow a copy. It is so fascinating to hear stories about quiltmaking in the early years of the last century and the relationship between the making of the quilts and the lives of the women. Their lives were so hard and the quiltmaking gave them both the opportunity to express themselves artistically but also to come together socially. Psychologically, it was an activity that took their minds away from the everyday hardships. I have been thinking about this and I do think there are parallels in the modern world. Whilst our lives are not hard physically as they were for the pioneer women, they are stressful, the world seems to move at breakneck speed. I work full time and I know full well that if I didn't have a craft activity of some sort to return to in my 'leisure' time, my quality of life would be diminished. For me, as I have said in my profile, the act of making something is as good as it gets. I have found that once something is completed I lose interest, I don't have much compulsion to keep everything. It's a bit like building a den in the garden when you are little, it's the building of it out of sticks and grass and whatever that is enjoyable, once it's built, the buzz has gone.

The stories in the book reminded me of my grandmother. My Nan was always making things, for as long as I knew her. She used to make wedding dresses in the forties, and in the fifties she made beautiful dance dresses for my Mum, sadly none of which survive. When I was little she made all of my dresses, I don't have any of those either, which I would dearly love to. She was always doing something, and her sewing machine was always 'up' in her front room, it was never put away. Later on, she took up crochet, but like those pioneer women, she didn't buy new wool. She went to jumble sales and bought old handknitted garments and washed them and unravelled them to re-use the wool. One of the first recyclers, I think - though this would be entirely in keeping with the women in the book, who rarely bought 'new' fabric. When I went to university she made me an afghan to go on my bed and it was bright and cheerful and everyone admired it. My Nan did the Daily Mirror general knowledge crossword every day and she bought me books, whole carrier bags full of books, because I loved to read.

So, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions (other than to try to be a little bit more organised so that I can buy myself a bit more time). For me, sewing and quilting isn't about the finish, it's about the doing. (Though to be fair I do like to have 'finishes' - I don't have many WIPS). I do what I can do in the time that I've got and I don't beat myself up if I can't. I have enough deadlines and tasks to complete in my working life, I'm not about to replicate that at home.

Talking of the home front, we have had a lovely day today. My friend and her small daughter came round this morning to play on DS's Nintendo Wii (very scarce still in the UK). DD had a friend sleep over and a friend of DS came round in the afternoon. I love for my kids to have their friends round. Because we lived in the country when I was young, that just didn't happen spontaneously. Since I was 18 I have always vowed to live on a bus route. Public transport = freedom as far as I'm concerned.

Blimey, this has been a bit of a philosophical post - must be that glass of Pinot Grigio Frizzante!



6 comments:

Patti said...

I've checked that book out of our guild library several times so I could reread the stories. Lately I'm really drawn to books on quilt history - especially those with stories like this. I've collected as many of the state quilt search books as I can afford. There are some wonderful new books with quilters stories out there also. I'm glad you found this one and enjoyed it.

Screen Door said...

Great post. I'm going to look for this book. I'm glad youare enjoying your family... Happy New Year, Fiona. (don't forget to show us the antique cutie you've worked on)....

Shelina said...

I ordered the book from the library. Fiona, that is a wonderful philosophy. So many times we turn our hobbies into work by creating deadlines, and forcing ourselves to do things we don't like. Your philosophy is great - do what you like while you like it.

jpquilter said...

many years ago, probably 17? there was a play called The Quilters and they used the stories from this book - it was wonderful and I saw it twice - two different groups performing the play. I too love to read about how quilting was so important to the lives of women
juliann

anne bebbington said...

You've put your finger right on the button there Fiona - my husband marvels at the fact that no matter how pear-shaped any part of our world may be at any one time I can just bury my head in my stash and squirrel away at something to keep my sanity - there's something very therapeutic about having something tangible in your hands to create with - I love computers and all the access they give you but if I had to get rid of the computer or a needle and thread the computer would go no question. Your book sounds fab - I shall have to put in a request at the library for that one or look it up on ebay or amazon - as for kids in the house I've always had the open house philosophy with our kids and their friends - you know where they are when they're in and have a good chance of knowing who they're with when they're not!

Shelina said...

Fiona, I got this book in from the library and I have looked at the pictures, and you are right, it is a wonderful book. I can't wait to read it!